Harry Beckett: Highly respected trumpeter who worked with Mingus, Scott, Dankworth and Tracey

One of the most eloquent and inventive of our jazz players, the trumpeter and flugelhorn player Harry Beckett didn't get the recognition he deserved. Because he was a quiet and gentle person, he remained a sideman and not primarily a bandleader. He was unique in that his lyrical and romantic style allowed him to play adventurous and even free-form jazz and still to communicate lucidly with his audience. He was also at home with reggae and electronic jazz.

Many of the younger black musicians who grew up in London regarded Beckett as a father figure. However, maybe he should have been thought of as a grandfather figure. According to the books he was 74 when he died, but his wife Veronica told me differently. "He was really 86, but he always knocked the years off," she said. "He told me it was because he thought if they knew his age nobody would want to hire him because he was too old." Beckett occasionally had difficulty when asked to show his passport because the date of birth on it had been defaced.

Born in Barbados, where he learned music in a Salvation Army band, Beckett came to England in 1954 and gradually worked his way into the London jazz scene. During the 1960s four of our finest jazz composers – Mike Gibbs, Neil Ardley, Mike Westbrook and Graham Collier – pounced upon him for their orchestras. He also played in the London Composers' Orchestra and the New Jazz Orchestra. In 1961, when the American bassist Charlie Mingus was in London working on the film All Night Long, he admired Beckett's playing and chose him for the small jazz group in the film. That year Beckett joined Collier's group and stayed with it until 1977. He had potent musical associations with guitarist Ray Russell and alto player Mike Osborne.

His beautiful playing made him so much in demand that, apart from plenty of work in the studios, he appeared in almost all the finest modern groups, including those of John Surman, John Warren, Barbara Thompson, Elton Dean, Kathy Stobart, Dudu Pukwana, Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and Ian Carr's Nucleus. He was a member of Ronnie Scott's Quintet and Johnny Dankworth's big band. Always in demand on the continent, he played as a member of Pierre Dørge's Ellington-inspired New Jungle Orchestra and George Gruntz's big band.

In 1972 Beckett won the Trumpeter of the Year award in the Melody Maker poll. From 1974, his main job was in Stan Tracey's Octet, where he stayed until the 1980s, when he led his own bands and toured briefly in the Middle East with one of them. He also toured in India, and in Europe with Dudu Pukwana's Zila during 1985. From 1986-1991 he was an important part of the all-black Jazz Warriors. He played in Louis Moholo's Dedication Orchestra in 2003. At this period he began appearing in jazz workshops and ever afterwards was keen to work in jazz education. Although he mostly graced the recordings of others, he made several inspired albums under his own name; the last of them, in 2008, was the dub-oriented The Modern Sound of Harry Beckett.

Harold Winston Beckett, jazz musician: born St Michael Parish, Barbados 30 May 1923; married 1956 Veronica Babb (four sons, two daughters); died London 22 July 2010.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone